HC Deb 03 December 1953 vol 521 cc1314-9
Mr. Attlee

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal to state the business for next week?

Mr. Crookshank

Yes, Sir. The business of the House will be as follows:

MONDAY, 7TH DECEMBER—Second Readings: Consolidated Fund Bill.

Statute Law Revision Bill [Lords].

Motions to approve: Import Duties (Exemptions) (No. 5) Order, which relates to sulphuric acid.

Two Draft Lace Industry Orders.

At the request of the Opposition, we have so arranged business on Monday which we hope will result in the Prayer relating to the Draft British Guiana (Constitution) Temporary Provisions Order being moved at an early hour.

TUESDAY, 8TH DECEMBER—Debate on the Second Memorandum of the Council for Wales and Monmouth shire and the White Paper on Rural Wales, which will arise on a Government Motion.

I should remind the House that this is not the annual debate on Welsh affairs, but is an exceptional arrangement.

Committee and remaining stages: Electoral Registers Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 9TH DECEMBER—Second Reading: Housing (Repairs and Rents) (Scotland) Bill.

Committee stage: Money Resolution.

Motion to approve: Post Office (Transatlantic Telephone Cable) Contract.

THURSDAY, 10TH DECEMBER—The business will be announced later.

FRIDAY, 11TH DECEMBER—Private Members' Motions.

If—I say "if"—all the necessary business can be disposed of, it is hoped that the House will adjourn on Friday, 18th December, for the Christmas Recess.

Mr. Attlee

I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman two questions. First, I think it is generally agreed that we wish to have a debate on foreign affairs after the Bermuda Conference. Would it be possible for him to arrange that it should be a two days' debate? Secondly, I do not know whether the Government intend to proceed with their television proposals, but I think the House ought to have a two days' debate on that subject if it is so intended to proceed.

Mr. Crookshank

If we are to debate everything over two days, the "if" with which I began my sentence about the Christmas Recess on Friday, 18th December, will not be achieved. But I take note of what the right hon. Gentleman has said on both these topics.

Mr. Attlee

The right hon. Gentleman will remember that when the Conservative Party were in Opposition, the present Prime Minister almost always asked for three days on everything.

Sir I. Fraser

Can we be told the date when we come back in January?

Mr. Crookshank

No, Sir. The hon. Gentleman is asking a little too much.

Mr. H. Morrison

Is it not reasonable that the House should know when it is likely to return? That information would help Members to make their arrangements to visit their constituencies or to undertake other engagements. We are only a fortnight off the intended adjournment, and I think that by now it would be reasonable if the right hon. Gentleman would give the dates for our resumption after Christmas.

Mr. Crookshank

I will inform the House as soon as I can. I can give hon. Members that assurance, but I really cannot give the date today.

Mr. Logan

In view of the Motion on the Order Paper, does the right hon. Gentleman intend this year to deal with the question of Cardinal Wyszynski? Will he provide an opportunity to debate the matter next Thursday, as he has said that that is a vacant date.

Mr. Crookshank

I do not know about next Thursday. As I told the House the other day, we all feel the greatest sympathy with this Motion, and I should like to get a short debate in if I can. If I cannot there will be the Christmas Adjournment debates, of course, and perhaps Mr. Speaker might look upon this subject with a favourable eye.

Mr. Shinwell

In connection with the recent court-martial of Captain Griffiths, while there is no question of a re-trial, and that will not be my suggestion, would the Government agree to publish a White Paper containing a full report of the proceedings so that they can be made available to every hon. Member. As this is a matter of great public interest would it not be wiser to do this than to leave Members to queue up in the Library to read the report?

Mr. Crookshank

It is not my function to promise White Papers on Departmental matters. If the right hon. Gentleman means a transcript of the evidence, it would be something most unusual in the case of a court-martial, or any other trial, that it should be produced as a White Paper; but I gather that he was speaking more in terms of a report, and I will gladly put that question to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Shinwell

I did give notice yesterday to both the right hon. Gentleman and to the Secretary of State for War that I intended to ask a question on behalf of the Opposition. It is not a summary of the proceedings which we require but a full report, so that Members may have the evidence of the whole of the proceedings, which is necessary if we are to form a considered opinion on the case itself.

Mr. Crookshank

I note what the right hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. Shinwell

If the right hon. Gentleman has noted it, can he not at any rate give a provisional assurance that the Government will consider the matter and try to meet the wishes of hon. Members?

Mr. Crookshank

My whole purpose in life is to try to meet the wishes of hon. Members, but what the right hon. Gentleman has asked for is something quite unprecedented. The evidence has, I understand, been placed in the Library and is, therefore, to that extent available—[Hon. Members: "No."]—or it will be in the Library, I understand, if it has not yet arrived. I will, of course, consider anything which the right hon. Gentleman has said, but I must not be taken as accepting his suggestions.

Mr. Strachey

Does not the Leader of the House appreciate that this is a matter which involves the honour of the British Army? It is precisely so that hon. Members may satisfy themselves that nothing has been done outside the actual matter of the trial which profoundly concerns us all that we wish to satisfy ourselves that nothing which impinges on the honour of Her Majesty's Forces has occurred? The only way that can be done is to have a printed transcript so that all hon. Members may have access to it. In the interests of the Army it seems to me that it is of great importance that this should be available.

Mr. S. Silverman

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's declared intention to give priority to meeting the wishes of hon. Members, may I again press him about the provision of time by the Government for the discussion of the Report of the recent Royal Commission on Capital Punishment? I quite appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's difficulties, but I would point out that this is an important matter and that it would be quite wrong to shelve it because some of its aspects happen to be controversial.

Mr. Crookshank

I do not think there is any suggestion of shelving anything. As the hon. Gentleman has pointed out, these things are matters of priority. I do not see any opportunity in the immediate future of a debate on this subject.

Mr. Silverman

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear this in mind for, if not the immediate, the not too remote future?

Mr. Snow

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to a report in today's newspapers to the effect that a Kenya administrative officer who has been convicted of a crime of brutality in Tanganyika is to be reinstated in his position, bearing in mind that this House has a duty in this matter under Trusteeship Council responsibility to the United Nations? Could we have a debate on this matter?

Mr. Crookshank

A report has been called for from both the Governments concerned.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Reverting to the Motion about Cardinal Mindszenty—[Laughter.]—does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this is not a small sectarian matter but is a broad question involving human rights and democracy, for which time should be found? Will he provide us with an opportunity of discussing it?

Mr. Crookshank

I cannot go further than I have done. Lest there should be any misunderstanding, I hope that the laughter which was heard will be taken as referring to a slip of the tongue; the hon. and learned Member used the wrong name. It does not mean that anybody in the House thinks that this is a laughing matter—it is a most serious matter.

Mr. Hughes

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the correction.

Mr. Harold Davies

In view of the fact that we are having the Prayer on British Guiana on Monday night, will the Leader of the House make available to Members the special Report of the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments, which contains relevant matter regarding the laying of Orders and Drafts on the Guiana Constitution? Will this be available for us before the Prayer?

Mr. Crookshank

It is not within my province as to when the Statutory Instruments Committee reports, but by their courtesy I have been informed that there is a special Report which should be available to the House tomorrow.

Mr. Davies

I thank the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Manuel

The Housing (Repairs and Rents) (Scotland) Bill, the Second Reading of which is to be taken on Wednesday, has a very wide scope, and every Scottish Member on this side will want to take part in it. This Bill needs exploring to the fullest extent on Second Reading. Can the Rule be suspended so that the debate may go beyond 10 o'clock?

Mr. Crookshank

If representations are made for a short extension, something might be arranged. But the hon. Member must not think that necessarily every Scottish Member would be called any more than every English and Welsh Member was called on the Second Reading of the other Bill.

Mr. H. Morrison

As the Minister of Housing and Local Government finally, in response to a request made not only by me, but by others as well, did not move the Financial Resolution on the other Bill, and as Scottish local authorities have similar problems, would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to indicate that the Financial Resolution on the Scottish Bill will not be taken on Wednesday night?

Mr. Crookshank

Without the presence of my right hon. Friend, I cannot make any comment on that subject on the spur of the moment. I am not sufficiently aware of the details to know whether both cases are on all fours, but I will make the point to my right hon. Friend on behalf of the right hon. Gentleman.

Proceedings on Government Business exempted, at this day's Sitting, from the provisions of Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House).—[Mr. Crookshank.]